“Zach LaVine’s representatives would be against a deal to the Knicks,” wrote Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News on June 23. “A source said the LaVine camp isn’t interested in dealing with the Knicks, who have a reputation around the league of favoring clients of CAA, the agency that employed Leon Rose before his move to the Knicks front office.”
There are multiple parts of this that bear monitoring.
This is further confirmation that the Bulls are indeed shopping LaVine, as first reported by Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer. It could also suggest that the Bulls aren’t simply gauging LaVine’s trade value for exploratory purposes.
If not for LaVine’s sentiments, the Knicks – with whom the Bulls held trade talks regarding LaVine at the trade deadline – would make for an intriguing trade partner.
“One league source said the Bulls would be focused on getting a good young player, multiple first-round picks and salary filler if they decide to trade LaVine,” wrote NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson on June 19. “Another said one first-round pick and an established, high-end player might be sufficiently intriguing.”
As Bondy notes, the Knicks are “strapped” with future draft picks.
The Knicks also have several younger players that could help facilitate a rebuild if the Bulls pivoted away from their veteran core as some around the league still believe is possible.
“I…heard from an insider that he believes the Bulls are done with this Big Three,” reported Sam Smith of Bulls.com on May 19. “Sources who may or may not know agreed. Of course, such an observation doesn’t need Sherlock Holmes.”
While that initially was taken to mean a full teardown, it could just mean the Bulls’ front office is ready to move on from this particular grouping. And, being roughly five years younger than their next best potential trade chip in DeMar DeRozan, it makes sense that LaVine’s name has been more prominently discussed, though the Bulls have gauged the value of both.
As Bondy also notes, neither the Bulls nor the Knicks are beholden to LaVine’s wishes but that could make things messy for New York down the road.
The Klutch Sports Factor
Another, perhaps even more telling aspect of Bondy’s report is that LaVine’s unwillingness to play for the Knicks is related to CAA’s influence and not his previous relationships with some in the organization.
LaVine, 28, is a Klutch Sports client.
This naturally begs the question of whether he would be more amenable to a trade to a destination like the Los Angeles Lakers where Klutch has greater pull thanks in no small part to LeBron James. The Lakers were among the many teams interested in LaVine during his brief foray into free agency last summer and could still hold an interest amid these new reports.
Bulls Actions Track With Arturas Karnisovas’ Plans
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has pushed the idea that he wants to give this group as much time as he can to prove their worth despite heading into the third full season of the experiment.
The caveat is that he suggested the Bulls needed to be a top-six seed or higher to follow through on that notion. Chicago was the six-seed in the 2021-22 season but Karnisovas’ logic at that time was that the group needed more time to jell only to see the team limp to the finish line, a trend that continued through the bulk of this past season.